Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007: Part 1

MSI P6N SLI Platinum Motherboard: SLI For Lighter Budgets

by Thomas Soderstrom

If we had a dime for every time someone considered buying a midrange graphics card now and adding a second one later...each of us could at least afford a caffeine fix at the local Starbucks every day. The problem has been that an SLI motherboard becomes mandatory, and those can be expensive.

MSI doesn't think that high prices should bar its customers from access to the latest technology, though. Starting with NVidia's mid-priced nForce 650i SLI chipset, the company added as many affordable features as it could, while keeping close watch on the final price. The results are an upper-midrange product at a lower-midrange price of around $140, which drops further to a surprisingly-cheap $120 after MSI's mail-in-rebate. It's this focus on value that put the P6N SLI Platinum into our most recent

System Builder Marathon mid-priced configuration following a good showing in its spring review.

The MSI P6N SLI Platinum is a solid performer at a budget price.

So what extra features are buyers barely paying for? Little things like an IEEE-1394 FireWire port, an External SATA interface, and an effective heat-pipe solution that requires only minimum airflow to work without needing a fan of its own. Each of these is widely available, but all are rarely combined in $120-$140 products. Of course there's also SLI support, which few similarly-priced parts can match, but most significant is the P6N SLI Platinum's best-in-class overclocking capability.

Low-budget buyers must certainly live with a few limitations, such as sharing the chipset's x16 PCI Express graphics card pathways across two slots whenever two graphics cards are used. However, reducing PCI Express lanes for SLI mode barely affects mid-priced graphics cards. The MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboards combination of features, performance, and overclocking ability make it a great choice for budget builders and gift givers.

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  • Mike-TH
    I know this is an old review, I just wanted to warn potential second-hand buyers that the fans in this case are simply crap. If the side panel is left on, my system overheats rapidly. I have seen it get to 80c in a short while when playing WoW. If the panel is left off, it stays under 65c.

    I have a stock i7-920 cpu, GTX-275 graphics and 6gb ram. a velociraptor 300g and 2 WD 2tb 7200rpm drives, along with a DVD-RW drive. Nothing fancy, nothing overclocked, nothing out of the ordinary.

    I bought a box of replacement fans that should help with cooling, once I get off my lazy bum and actually DO the replacing.